Branches of Persona
Evelia Mendez, Division 2, 12th grade #ws17e-s1d2

Like most people, I’ve never been proud of what makes me different. We try to hide what makes us different from one another because we believe it to be a sign that there’s something wrong with us. But I have embraced some of my qualities; coming to terms with the fact that they make me who I am today. I accept that I am an extreme empath, incapable of hate and mistrust. I accept that my perspective of the world is more optimistic than the majority. I accept that I am, at best, a perfectionist in my English language literacy.

Instilled by my parents, my extreme empathy has been a part of me from a very young age. Every time they told me, “imagine how they feel” or “put yourself in their shoes” or “try to see it the way they do”, it slowly sunk in and became a habit. I grew used to seeing both sides of everything; how I feel, and how the other person feels. Unfortunately, it has become a challenge to keep other people’s feelings and emotions separate from mine. This empathetic trait can cause problems for me that I’d never anticipated. I find it hard to tolerate movies or books with painful details; be it for pleasure or academics such as A Modest Proposal by 17th century satirist, Jonathan Swift, that was an assignment read in my AP English Literature class. I found myself squirming and fighting the urge to cry as I read the details of Swift’s proposal to eat the children of the beggars in order to save the Irish government money. A debateable issue I have come across is my incapability to stop making excuses for people. I find myself in the shoes of everyone but my own, deciding that everyone else is more important than me. I am after all, blessed to have people who love me, so I must in turn love everyone else. A positive from my empathy, is that I help everyone I meet, and leave them happier than how I found them. A negative, I am striving to fix, is my consistent negligence to my own needs and desires.

In a world this wonderful, how can I complain? “There are so many opportunities for happiness that it’s astonishing anyone would choose to waste their time whining about what they don’t have, instead of taking advantage of what they do.” Wise words my father has drilled into me since the very beginning of my capability to understand words and their meaning. It’s true that I have left my small town very few times, and most of the time, only to visit nearby cities, so I don’t have much “real-world experience”. Because of my naivety, I have been advised by many that the real world is not a nice place that embraces you with open arms. In fact, a close friend of mine has stated that it “slaps you in the face” before you get through the doorway. Slowly coming to understand that not everyone in the world is going to be as nice as I am or as polite, I still find it difficult to see how it makes sense that because the world is going to be mean to me, I should deprive it of the opportunity to make a change and do better. My father has told me that people react. Meaning, they “act” based on what acts on them. If you’re nice to someone, they’re bound to show that kindness somewhere else, even if it isn’t to you. And kindness is distributed where it’s needed. Karma, for which I’m a devout believer, balances the world. What goes around comes around, like the circle on the necklace I wear religiously. Everyday, it reminds me that I’d much rather put positive energy into the world and hope it finds it’s way to someone who needs it, than be selfish and lower my expectations of the world. This is how I see it, seeing only the negative only makes me unhappy and takes away my initiative to try, focusing on the positive however, makes life worth living and gives me motivation to continue making the most of it.

I have the annoying and socially-crippling desire to correct grammar. I’m a natural born writer with the innate love for expression in words. This has it’s advantages when I’m completing a writing task be it for academics or pleasure. It’s disadvantageous, however, when I attempt to blend in or get along in a social setting. I struggle to express myself the way I would like in the presence of peers, hindered by my advanced vocabulary and proper verbal etiquette from relating in a way they’ll understand. I have taught myself to refrain from using high level words and push myself to speak in a language I know they will understand, despite my discomfort in using improper language. I have no problem explaining myself and communicating to adults and students that are on a level of intellect comparable to mine, but most people I have come in contact with around my age, are discouraged from interacting with me because the way I naturally speak intimidates them or makes them feel incompetent. I have learned to change my dialect depending on the person with whom I’m conversing and am grateful I will soon be able to have my career choice of editing as an outlet to disperse this, at times, annoying habit.

I have accepted my differences and embraced them, not as errors or flaws, but as a part of my identity that makes me uniquely me. The differences are the “extra” that set us apart from other applicants; be it applying for a career, romantic, or other opportunity. If instead of viewing ourselves as a letter that must constantly be revised, we perceived our personas as already published books, we could learn that who we are on every page is wonderful, and anyone who disagrees should search for a different genre.
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